Mystery Glass

Pieces of pressed glass from the Victorian period are now over 130years old. Collectors of this type of glass are lucky in that a lot of the glass is marked and there are a number of websites, publications and archives to aid them with their discoveries. But as with all types of collecting there are still a lot of items to be found that are, frankly, mysteries. Unmarked glass, glass whose use may be unknown, undiscovered facts about some of the factories producing the glass. I have put together a few items that may be of interest.

 


    Sowerby Swan trough

  • Sowerby ? glass pink glass, swan flower-holder with lilies and bullrushes
  • Sowerby glass ivory Queensware, swan flower-holder with lilies and bullrushes

The swan vase on the left is unmarked and is different to the Queensware version on the right. (click thumbnails for larger images)
Most of the swans you see are like the Queensware version, even the version made in carnival glass from the 1920's onwards is from the same, older mould.
This pink version is different, there are no gaps between the body of the vase and the neck and feet of the swans, the overall design is not so well defined and there is no Sowerby mark. The pink colour suggests it was probably made later than the originals, perhaps in the 1930's? Cyril Manleys book, Decorative Victorian Glass (page 104), shows a similar pink swan vase.
Is this a piece of Sowerby glass or a copy from another manufacturer?

 


    Sowerby black sugar and cream

  • Sowerby black sugar and cream with peacock decoration
  • Sowerby black sugar and cream with peacock decoration
  • Sowerby black sugar and cream with peacock decoration
  • Sowerby black sugar and cream with peacock decoration
  • Sowerby black sugar and cream with peacock decoration
  • Sowerby black sugar and cream with peacock decoration

Unusual sugar and cream in jet glass. Both are unmarked but bear a striking resemblance to Sowerby pattern number 1350. The difference is the size. The black items are 90mm tall whereas the pattern 1350 items are 60mm tall. I have included pictures of pattern 1350 in Queensware for size comparison. The background behind the peacocks in the decoration is stippled but apart from that the decoration is very similar. I assume these are Sowerby, the moulding and pressing is very good, but I have never seen this pattern before.

 


    Sowerby Venetian glass

  • Sowerby Venetian glass, medium size green jug with blue rim
  • Sowerby Venetian glass, medium size green jug with blue rim
  • Sowerby pattern book VIII 1880 page 14
  • Sowerby Venetian glass, tall footed flask showing handle detail

More of an observation than a mystery. Most of Sowerby's output was pressed/mould blown glass but between 1877 and 1883 they produced a line of hand blown Venetian type glass. Shown here are two Sowerby Venetian jugs. Both are the same size and have the same smooth ground pontil. The jug on the left has a thick blue rim and a curl on the bottom of the handle as shown in the 1880 pattern book page 14. But there are distinct differences between the two jugs. The green glass is different, the jug on the right is more yellow in colour and reacts to UV light, the left jug with the 'looped' handle does not react, suggesting a different mix of glass. The blue rims are different, the jug on the right has a rim that is darker and thinner. The most obvious difference is the way the handles are attached. The fourth picture shows a Venetian footed flask with the same handle.
I believe they are both Sowerby Venetian, I have seen a couple of the 'looped' handle pieces with broken loops, so perhaps the design was changed.

 


    Sowerby Cobalt Blue jug?

  • Sowerby glass, large Bristol Blue jug with white rim
  • Sowerby glass, large Bristol Blue jug with white rim
  • Sowerby glass, large Bristol Blue jug with white rim
  • Sowerby glass, large Bristol Blue jug with white rim, bottom detail

A large Cobalt/Bristol Blue coloured jug which is possibly by Sowerby. I have seen Sowerby pressed items in a similar colour. British Glass 1800-1914 by Charles R. Hajdamach shows a similar jug (pg 256, Plate 23), which is 'possibly' Sowerby. The jug has a translucent white rim and is 195mm tall, size is shown against a 130mm Venetian jug in picture 2. Very similar in design to the Sowerby Venetian jugs, but this jug does not have a ground smooth pontil.
Is this jug by Sowerby?

 


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